LinuxWorld 2008 Prediction #2: Linux and longevity

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Podcast of LinuxWorld 2008 Prediction #2

Although I’ve previously published the slides for the talk I gave at LinuxWorld 2008 in San Francisco, I thought it might be useful to add some additional comments in the blog about each of the eight predictions I made. This is not the full text of what I said nor a full discussion of the slide, but just some ideas that flesh out what I meant. The full one hour video of the keynote talk is now available at the conference website.

Slide made of prediction at LinuxWorld 2008

Linux as software and Linux as a management project have demonstrated that they can encompass a huge scope of functionality and evolve in a practical way while maintaining high quality. These attributes will help it maintain and probably expand its dominant position in the next ten years.

In retrospect, I probably should have distinguished between “Linux on the server” and “Linux on the desktop.” I unreservedly stick to this prediction on the server.

There are other open source operating systems out there that have excellent work in them and being added to them daily. By saying that Linux will maintain its #1 position, I am NOT saying that work will or should stop on the other operating systems. We need innovation to occur across the free and open source universe in a non-monopolistic way. Again, though, I think Linux will absorb the best features from elsewhere that work in its areas of applicability.

Some people have interpreted this as an insult against their favorite open source operating system. I’m calling it as I see it, not trying to annoy you. Since we’re talking about open source, you have every opportunity to get a truly open community together and drive adoption. Take this and my other predictions as challenges to prove me wrong if you disagree with me!

On the desktop things are a bit murkier because of how Apple derived OS X from FreeBSD. You can’t exactly count OS X among “the open source operating systems,” and since OS X is not FreeBSD, you can’t exactly count OS X within the pure distribution numbers of FreeBSD. Sigh.

I think Apple made a brilliant decision to base OS X on FreeBSD.

I think if we take OS X out of the running, it’s clear that Linux is at the top of the list of “open source desktop operating systems.”

In case you haven’t seen it, take a look at the fake Microsoft Memo from Wired in February, 2005. It’s a note from a fictional Linux Torvalds, Microsoft employee, in October of 2008.

Everybody around Steve dismissed Firefox as unimportant. But Firefox taught people that you could replace pieces of the Windows desktop with open source software. That was a crack in the seamless facade. You guys were the experts at demonetizing whole sectors of the industry to protect the OS. But how were you going to do that against products that were free? I can’t deny that I found a certain poetry in that dilemma.

I think that Linux has a chance as becoming a solid 1-of-3 on the desktop, but more on that in a later prediction.

Thanks for the notes from people who brought ReactOS and Syllable to my attention. Check out these open source operating systems. Presumably everyone knows about OpenSolaris as well.

Next: LinuxWorld 2008 Prediction #3: Linux and x86

Previous: LinuxWorld 2008 Prediction #1: Green

One Comment

  1. I guess I should mention the Open Source BeOS ‘clone’, Haiku (, as I’ve contributed a little towards that, even if I have always been a Linux user/fan.

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